Snail Shells, Mille Lacs

Snail Shells

I stopped at a beach on the north end of Lake Mille Lacs* back in early October and took this photo of a drift of sea shells. Mille Lacs is a large lake in central Minnesota. In some places, the distance across the lake is great enough that you can’t see the other shore–just the horizon.

I hadn’t previously been to this beach. When I arrived, I walked down to it and, stepping down onto the sand, saw a bunch of what I thought at first were large acorns. And then I realized that they were in fact empty snail shells. Drifts of them had accumulated along the beach. I was fascinated by them and so took this photo.

I took the photo with my Nagaoka “Woody” 4×5 field camera, a lightweight folding camera with a wooden body. I love the Woody. It has only a limited range of movements–some tilt on front and rear standard, rise on the front standard, and a bit of kludgy swing on the rear standard. It doesn’t have any shift, which is a bit of a bummer. But it’s very light, and it works just fine for most of what I need it to do when I’m doing landscape photography.

I used a Fujinon-W 180mm lens. This is probably my favorite lens. It’s very sharp, and it doesn’t introduce any distortion. It’s the equivalent of about a 52mm lens on a 35mm camera. I use it more than any of my other lenses.

I used a bit of front tilt to try to get as much of the image sharp as I could get. I think that it worked out pretty well. I did crop out a bit to avoid some softness at top and bottom of the image.

I used Ilford Delta 100 film, with a one-eighth (1/8th) second exposure at f/32. I developed the negative in Rodinal, using a 1:100 dilution, for 18 minutes, then scanned the negative. I think that I may print this image, as I think that the print will give better tones than did the scanning.

Here’s a photo of my setup for the shot:

* Yes, “Lake Mille Lacs,” which means, in essence, “Lake Thousand Lakes.”


Have a Nice Day

Have a Nice Day

I took this photograph using my Nagaoka “Woody” 4×5 field camera, using a Fujinon-W 180mm lens at f/32. The film was Ilford FP4+ film, which I developed in Rodinal, mixed 1:50, for fifteen minutes. I scanned the negative.

The setup was very, very simple. I used a little bit of rise, but that was it. I think that I took the photograph in April. There was still some snow on the ground here in central Minnesota.

White Roses

White Roses

I took this photo with my 4×5 Horseman LS, using a Schneider-Kreuznach 210mm Symmar-S at f/5.6. The exposure was eight seconds on Shanghai GP3 film, which is generally rated at ISO 100.

I made a mistake here, as I intended to shoot the image at f/11. So I developed it at ISO 50, using Rodinal at 1:25 for six minutes. That was only one stop slower. The depth of field is very, very shallow, but there is some sharpness. And I do like the out-of-focus areas.

Ceci n’est pas un nomade

Ceci N'est Pas un Nomade

A bit of a throwback here. I haven’t taken a photo of shaving gear in a while. But on Sunday, it was snowing and raining and nasty, and I wanted to take a photo. So I arranged some shaving gear and took a photo.

Then, later that day, the rain stopped, and I took four photos outside. I’m hopeful that they turned out well, and I’ll post one or more of them later.

I took this photo with a Calumet monorail 4×5. It’s kind of a clunky old camera, but it works just fine. I have an Ilex Acutar 165mm f/6.3 lens on it. The Acutar isn’t highly regarded. It uses an older design and doesn’t have great coverage, so it won’t permit many camera movements. But it works fine if you take pretty straightforward shots. I used a bit of tilt on this shot, and I didn’t run into coverage issues.

I shot the photo on Ilford FP4+ film and developed it in Rodinal, using a 1:50 dilution and a fifteen-minute development time.

The title is, of course, a riff on Magritte’s painting Ceci nest pas one pipe. In my photo, the Nomad shave soap label is misleading. I used up the Nomad shave soap a long time ago, and now the little wooden box holds another brand of shaving soap (RazoRock Blue Label–which is actually a much nicer soap than the Crabtree & Evelyn soap).

Thus Have My Sins Through My Cold Heart Burned

What's Left of Winter

I took this photo using my Horseman LS 4×5″ monorail view camera. The lens is a Schneider-Kreuznach 210mm Symmar-S. I shot the image on Ilford Delta 100 and developed it in Kodak HC-110, using a 1:119 dilution and a twenty-four-minute development time. I’ve found that this dilution helps me tame excess contrast and avoid excessive grain.

The subject is the pond in our backyard. The ice has almost completely melted away. It rotted away in interesting layers, and you can also see where leaves rested on the ice and–by absorbing solar energy–rotted through it. The pond also reflects the tall pole fence that stands along that side of our yard.

The Horseman is a heavy camera–about thirteen pounds, I believe. But it is very precise. It has geared rise and fall and geared shift. The front and rear standards are both geared for focusing, and the rail itself is geared for focusing. This makes it easy to use.

The Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 210mm f/5.6 lens uses a somewhat older design, but it’s still plenty sharp. In Lightroom, the detail is almost endless.

Interestingly, I used a bit of back tilt to get the image to focus. That worked better than front tilt, which I initially tried without real success. The back tilt also allowed me to emphasize the size of the ice at the top of the image. That created a bit of downward convergence, but that doesn’t bother me. I actually like the sense of the posts crowding together over the pond.

Here’s a photo of the Horseman on my latest acquisition, a heavy Bogen ball-head tripod.




I shot this photo of tulips–with this one just past its prime–using my Horseman LS 4″x5″ large-format camera. I used a 210mm Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S and Ilford HP5+ film, rating it at ISO 100. The aperture was f/11, and the exposure was one second. I developed the film in Rodinal, 1:50, for nine minutes and then scanned the image.

I’ve been annoyed by distracting backgrounds in many the images I’ve been shooting at home. For this one, I hung a sheet of black felt behind the tulips. I like the result.

This photo shows the back of the Horseman when I had set up the shot:


Above the Ice

Above the IceIMG_1400

Spring is coming to Minneapolis! On Sunday, I was hanging around the house, waiting for some friends to return our daughter from an overnight at their place. I wandered around outside a bit, looking for some close-up spots, and found a spot along the curb where a bit of ice remained under standing water, with dead leaves floating in the water. I thought that it might make an interesting composition.

I took the photo with my Horseman LS 4″x5″ monorail view camera, which is shown here in position (just after I took the photo). I used a Schneider-Kreuznach 240mm Symmar-S lens at f/32, with bracketed exposures of one-half and one seconds on Ilford Delta 100 film. Both negatives were usable, but I scanned the denser one-second exposure, as I thought that it had a bit more detail in the shadows (i.e., the lighter portions of the negative).

I developed the negatives in HC-110, using a 1:119 solution, for twenty-four minutes, with an initial thirty seconds of agitation followed by ten seconds of agitation every two minutes thereafter. I use that formula when I think that I have a very contrasty negative. As the iPhone photo shows, I did have a lot of contrast, with heavily sidelit leaves floating  and deep shadows. The 1:119 solution did the trick, giving me negatives that would be easy to print using conventional darkroom techniques.

I think that I’ll make a conventional darkroom print from one of these negatives. I printed the scanned image on a Canon printer, and it turned out very well. I may get some 16×20 paper and make a big print. This version doesn’t look particularly sharp. But in Lightroom, the negative shows immense, very crisp detail.



I took the photo “Lilies” using the setup shown above. The camera is a Horseman LS 4×5 monorail. The lens is a 180mm Fujinon W. I used Ilford HP5+ film and developed it in HC-110 (using a 1:63 dilution) for eleven minutes.

I’ve been enjoying HP5+. I had always avoided it, as I thought that the grain would bother me. In fact, though, the grain is very, very smooth.

Zorki 1D

Zorki 1DI am stupidly fond of knockoffs of Leica’s early cameras, up through the IIIf. I have a Canon IV-SB (which I consider actually better than a Leica), a Nicca 3F, and a number of Feds and Zorkis. Fed and Zorki, camera manufacturers in the former Soviet Union, both manufactured knockoffs of Leicas.

This is my latest acquisition, a Zorki 1D. Well, Zorki didn’t call it the “Zorki 1D.” It was just a Zorki. It dates from the mid-1950s. I have a Fed 1, which is probably older than the Zorki, which has a great lens–and a light leak in the shutter. I’m hoping that this newly acquired Zorki (a) doesn’t have a light leak and (b) produces images as lovely as those of the Fed.

I took this photo on my Horseman LS, a monorail 4×5 view camera. I used an Ilex 165mm lens. The Ilex doesn’t have a particularly good reputation, as it uses an older design and doesn’t have much coverage–that is, it barely covers the 4×5 film negative and thus doesn’t allow for many camera movements. But I take a lot of landscape shots in which I use very little in the way of movements. I recently purchased a Nagaoka Woody, an extremely lightweight 4×5 field camera, and I’m planning on using the Ilex and a lightweight Nikkor 135mm lens with the Woody.

Even though the Ilex doesn’t have a great reputation, I thought that it worked fine for this photo. I focused on the lettering at the top of the front of the lens and then stopped down to f/16. I didn’t want the entire camera in focus: I wanted to have a sense of depth and roundness, and I feel that I capture that best with a somewhat shallower depth of field.

I shot the image on Ilford HP5+, an ISO 400 film, and developed it in Kodak’s HC-110 developer, using a solution of 1:63 (developer:water) for eleven minutes at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. I like the grain and the transition from in-focus to out-of-focus areas.

A Green Thought

I took this photo using my newest large-format acquisition, a Nagaoka Woody. The Woody is a 4×5 field camera–that is, a view camera with somewhat limited movements. In addition, field cameras fold up. The Woody folds up to about the size of a sandwich box, so it’s easy to pack.

When I shoot landscapes, I don’t use a lot of camera movements–a little rise or tilt is about it. So I don’t need much in the way of movements. And the Woody is amazingly light–just about two and a half pounds, or a bit more than two kilograms. Compare that to my other recent acquisition, a Horseman LS 4×5 monorail that probably weighs thirteen pounds. The Horseman is great for studio work. It has geared rise (and fall) and geared shift, along with  But it would be a beast in the field. Even my Linhof Kardan Color was really too much for field work.

I have a Busch Pressman, which is a press camera that also folds up like a field camera. The Pressman has an excellent focusing mechanism, and it’s fitted with a very fine Kodak Ektar 127mm f/4.7 lens. But the Pressman is still fairly heavy, and it’s hard to find lens boards for it. The Woody is lighter and takes Linhof lens boards, so I’m just using those on it.

This is one of my wife’s houseplants. Lately, I’ve been enjoying these kinds of moody, low-contrast shots. I shot it on Ilford HP5+, an ISO 400 film. I had never used HP5+ before, but I’d seen some good results from it. I shot it at box speed and developed it in Kodak HC-110, using a 1:63 dilution for eleven minutes. The negative displays very little grain. I usually use Ilford Delta 100, but I’m very pleased with HP5+ and will use more of it in the future.

A Green Thought